STDVD: The Cookout

August 26, 2009

This trailer might make you think The Cookout is a funny little film. Great cast, after all, including Ja Rule, Queen Latifah, Tim Meadows, Jonathan Silverman a smokin’ Farrah Fawcett in a small role and Danny Glover as the world’s whitest black man. You might think this is a funny family-oriented comedy. You might think someone spent more than fifty bucks making it.

You would be wrong.

I suspect these fine actors donated their time to this 2004 project. Either that, or the producers spent all their money on casting and skipped the rest. Example: the story centres around a young basketball prodigy who goes first in the NBA draft, and how his extended family deals with his newfound success. The crucial draft scenes made me cringe. Have you ever watched any kind of sports draft? They vary sport to sport, year to year, but they never, never consist of a podium in front of curtains and a table. One table.

Cheapness aside, The Cookout just isn’t funny. Not at all. The characters are dull, stereotyped and stupid. Frankie Faison, who I enjoy in everything he does, seems to have been told his character, the dad, is supposed to be a moron. “You’re not acting stupid enough, Frankie! Come on! Stupid it up!” His performance is an embarassment.

Actually, everyone’s performance in this is subpar. It plays out like only a few people read the script, and the ones that did decided it the dialogue was unsayable. The whole cast fails in this, even Queen Latifah, who was good even in Taxi. And while I was pleased to see Jonathan Silverman again, I suspect he’ll be leaving this film off his resume.

This is one of those straight-to-DVD movies that landed in my collection last year. I managed to avoid seeing it for a long, long time, because I thought it looked cheap and stupid. Then, one night this week, I said “Well, maybe it’s one of those hidden gems.” I should have trusted my first instincts.

The sad thing about this? It was Farrah’s last film role.

For more STDVD reviews, search in the box to the right.


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